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Republic Day: Obama has seen better guns and tanks

Vikram Kilpady
Vikram KilpadyJan 26, 2015 | 12:38

Republic Day: Obama has seen better guns and tanks

India is breathless as it readies to host the world's greatest propagator of democracy, US President Barack Obama, as chief guest at the Republic Day parade. Yes, we want the world's most powerful man who commands possibly the best strike forces on land, sea and air in the world with the best weaponry there is to see our tanks, our missiles and those awful tableaux and be thankful. Remains of the cold war serve the Indian armed forces, Obama must have seen similar stuff in Afghanistan which his country "liberated" from the Taliban after "freeing" it from Soviet occupation or even in Iraq, also "liberated" by Obama's predecessor, which also bought Soviet arms. But nowhere in the world will Obama see a diverse and, self-professedly, modern country as India make stereotypes of other ethnic and language groups in badly managed tableaux that will continue to highlight faux achievements and bury the very real cultural feasts that await one in these states. To be fair to Obama, he is going to be more than delighted to see India's military might. He may not say anything negative. To become US President, the aspirant has to mould oneself into so many positive attributes that the negatives are buried before they put forth their decision to contest. Any plainspeak is ruled out.   

The US Head of State knows his weaponry. For those who remember, Obama was at hand, with his entire cabinet, when his Navy Seals got America's enemy number 1 Osama bin Laden from Abbottabad in the early hours of May 2, 2011 while Pakistan slept soundly. America's best buddy in South Asia didn't even know that Uncle Sam was hopping in with highly-trained attack commandos to rid itself of the Sheikh, Islamabad claimed, it didn't know was nestled in Abbottabad. The Republic Day is a relic of the Cold War. It should be done away with and save us some money. We already have August 15 which is far more significant than the date the Constitution came into force in 1950. The Constitution is a much-abused document that is put aside in hard politics, where riotsare engineered to cement votebanks before elections. Forget the rights and duties of the citizen, which citizen we may ask. The one in the hatchback-sedan guzzling diesel or the one whose PDS subsidies are being worn down in clever real-nominal terms. While India comes up with renewed vigour to scrap subsidies, the US continues to dole out the same subsidies but at dollar terms to its farmers and others who hold the keys to the US political system.

The show of weapons which Obama is here to see is a leftover from the Soviet era. In the US-USSR setting that independent India was birthed in, New Delhi didn't mind the pomp and glamour associated with the parade Moscow marked every year to remember the October Revolution. Tin-pot dictators and revolutionary governments wanted to ape the erstwhile Soviet Union's show of strength in an attempt to portray that they were not Yankee-modelled doodle-dos. But these strongmen and despots sold their countries' precious raw materials at a pittance to the very same corporations that continue to thrive today.

January 26 was not insignificant for India in 1950. Apart from being the day the Constitution came into force as the governing document of India, the date is also important vis-à-vis the freedom struggle as it was the date in 1930 when the declaration of Indian independence was made by the Indian National Congress (not to be confused with the one that got licked in 2014).

But those days are gone, India has to cut down on wasteful expenditure and should start with the Republic Day. At least dispense with the parade which involves movement of troops, arms, school children from distant states, and security clampdowns in suburban armpits of the national capital. All these cost money. When the poor have to do with less to eat everyday in the subsidy trimming neoliberal raj that is continuing, the pomp of the Indian State should also be snipped to save some precious money. Hey, it doesn't mean politicians have to travel cattle class.

Last updated: January 26, 2015 | 12:38
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